Dear 2010-2011 University of Kansas Men's Basketball Team,
I want to thank you all for everything you did for us fans this year. You over came and accomplished so much, not only on the court, but in life too. You showed that a bunch of guys can become young men and molded into a team.
To the seniors, wow what careers!! 4 straight Big 12 Conference titles, extending the streak to 7. 19, 20, 21 and 22 and the streak stayed alive into the NCAA tournament on your watch, the longest active streak in the country. Thank you for your leadership and your steady play. Thank you for keeping this team together even through times that were so rough that most of us hope we never encounter. You played through injuries, benchings, suspensions and you never complained about any of it. You set the bar high for everyone else to follow you at Kansas.
To the under class men, injuries, suspensions, being called names by your own fans, death and yet you kept prevailing as well. Marcus you took this team and put it on your broad shoulders, you did not let anyone down, don't ever believe that. Thomas what you went through this year was more than enough for a full lifetime let alone for someone your age. Josh, you came to Kansas and sat, you came in and lit it up, you got injured and yet you kept playing and took your role and never said a word. Tyshawn, you grew up right in front of us this year and we missed it as we were watching everyone else. You took your suspension to your advantage and learned from it. You didn't let it define you, you stepped up and became a great floor leader for this team. Travis, just as you were hitting your stride this season you went down, and yet you like everyone else on this team just kept pushing ahead.
The coaching staff, the trainers and all non-player personnel, you molded these young fella's into young men and made them a team. You handled injuries suspensions and death with world class. You were there for your players, you were there for the fans as well. Coach Self you do such a wonderful job of implementing the team concept. There are so many teams where it's one players and his cast, as he scores 28 the rest of the team is barely scoring 10 points a player. This team was so balanced, if one player was off another was on, that thanks goes to you. To the training staff, thank you for keeping the team healthy on able to play, you were very busy after practices and games healing everyone. Also thanks for having them stronger faster and ready to go. To all the assistant coaches, you do such a great job with each individual player, you take them from raw to elite.
As the game came to a close yesterday, my 11 year old daughter was in tears, she was hurting because of the loss and afraid to go back to school today knowing that she is the only Kansas fan at her school, we live in Nebraska. I told her that she should keep her head up and look at what this team accomplished, not only this season but what you did for this team. As she got ready for school she put on her Blue Kansas hoodie and said she was proud of her team and would stay proud of them year round through thick and thin, wins and loses. You should know that you not only do so much for lifelong fans but you touch the heart of your young fans as well.
This team will be remembered for so much more than just one game: Academic All-American, Big 12 Conference player and coach of the year, keeping two very big streaks alive and what you all went through on and off the court. You are more than a team, you took the motto, "Family over everything" and became family, a bond that can never be broken. you showed us all why, "It's good to be a Jayhawk" has never been more true.
I hope when you look back you will understand even though this wasn't the way you wanted this season to end, you overcame more than anyone else. People said at the beginning of the season you weren't going to win the Big 12, let alone the Big 12 North, and you won them both and never shoved it in their face and yet you could have. There is no one to blame for a loss, you win as a team, you lose as a team. When one teammate was off another was on. When one family member was down you rallied around them and helped them through it.
There is so much more I could say about this team, but I have taken enough time and space at this point. Just remember you are Jayhawks for life(JFL)!!
Justin Ryman Gretna, NE
p.s. May your future hold greatness for you all, no matter where life leads you.